First Team
Isthmian League South East Tue 1 February Oaklands Park
Chichester City
  • Overton (12')
  • Rowlatt (34')
Burgess Hill
  • Harding (78')

The free-scoring visitors came into the game on the back of five league wins on the bounce – beating former league leaders Cray Valley PM and current table toppers Hastings United in that sequence.

Chi, meanwhile, had lost two, drawn two, and won one in the same run of games in the Isthmian south east division, all against Sussex sides, finding the back of the net just twice.

There were four changes to the starting XI. Rob Hutchings returned at left back following a three-match suspension for a red card in the RUR Cup; Lewis Hyde partnered Ben Pashley in the heart of the defence after recovering from injury; Ethan Prichard came back in place of Emmett Dunn; and Overton, who didn’t feature in the Haywards Heath game, was up top.

The first 45 minutes were a stark contrast to the turgid opening period at Oaklands Park last time out.

Chi custodian Kieran Magee got things going down the right and a nice pass from Ryan Davidson picked out Lloyd Rowlatt.

Conrad Honore then had a cross cleared as the away side pressed.

And a mistake by Magee in the fifth minute almost gifted the Hillians a goal but teammates bailed him out and smuggled the ball away.

The visitors’ skipper Lewis Taylor had a go with a long-ranger that didn’t trouble Magee before beating Overton to the ball at the other end after a neat exchange between Rowlatt and Jamie Horncastle and getting it back to his keeper.

Next Hyde and striker Tom Chalaye duelled with the Chi centre back winning a throw-in.

Kaleem Haitham and Prichard combined and the No10 drove into the Hill penalty area only to be tackled before Pat Harding broke for the visitors and Chalaye chested the ball on to Martyn Box.

Connor Tighe then latched on to a Hutchings clearance but dragged his effort wide.

Top scorer Overton grabbed the opener with a delightful finish 12 minutes in for his 13th goal in all competitions this season.

Harry Pollard got a stern talking to by referee Sean Jenkins after impeding Rowlatt in Chi’s next attack and Box, who’d scored Burgess Hill’s winners in the previous three matches against Hastings, Sittingbourne and Whitehawk, found space in the area but couldn’t get an attempt on target this time.

Overton connected with a header of sorts following clever work by Haitham and Davidson on the right flank only to find Will Huffer’s gloves.

Nic D’Arienzo then launched a long throw that was cleared, and a subsequent one which was turned out for a corner. Tighe whipped an out-swinger in and Davidson headed it powerfully away.

Josh Spinks lifted the ball back into the 18-yard box and a miscommunication between Ben Mendoza and Rowlatt got Chi into a bit of a fix but Rowlatt redeemed himself with a decent block.

The hosts dealt with another D’Arienzo throw at the mid-point and a long clearance presented Prichard with an opportunity that did little to trouble Huffer.

Davidson then conceded a free-kick for a foul on Box but Tighe’s set-piece picked out a player in an offside position at the back stick.

Davidson, who along with the rest of the Chi back four was outstanding, made a towering header to get a long throw-in away just before the half hour mark.

Next, Hutchings fed Prichard and following some tricky skill from the hosts’ winger the Hillians managed to clear their lines before a super touch by Haitham set Prichard up for a shot on the turn that Huffer claimed.

Hutchings then made two excellent headers; Pashley held off Chalaye to win the home side a throw; and Hyde tackled impressively to deny Box.

Rowlatt doubled Chi’s advantage on 34 minutes steering in Prichard’s cross.

Chalaye might have done better moments later but pulled an effort off target and Honore was flagged offside in the following attack.

A slide-rule pass from Rowlatt to Overton ended in a rather wayward delivery by Haitham.

And on the stroke of half time Burgess Hill spurned two glorious chances when Box, in a rich scoring vein, somehow missed from three yards out and Tighe blazed one over the bar.

A strongly hit back pass by Pashley gave Magee something to think about after the restart and the Chi keeper pulled off the save of the night from Tighe’s set-piece following a foul on Box.

Overton found the back of the net again in the 50th minute latching on to Mendoza’s measured pass only to have it chalked off by a linesman’s flag.

Tighe lifted a shot high over the frame of the goal and typical Rowlatt ‘see ya later’ skill got him away from a player to tee Prichard up for a cross which Haitham couldn’t quite reach.

Another intelligent ball from Rowlatt picked out Prichard who after a couple of step-overs delivered into the area only for Huffer to gather.

Pashley then comfortably headed D’Arienzo’s long ball back to Magee and the Hill player over-hit a cross to Taylor at the far post.

Haitham was inches away from getting on to Mendoza’s delivery after he dropped his shoulder and arrowed the ball.

Next, Horncastle got into the opposition’s penalty area but following a neat twist the Chi captain’s shot nicked off a defender.

A heart in your mouth moment came and went on 63 minutes when Magee misread Hutchings’ back pass which luckily for him went out for a corner.

Play was halted as Overton received treatment for a head injury and then Chalaye fired a fierce shot narrowly wide.

The visitors rang the changes with Hayden Skerry coming on for Tighe and Chichester defended well to deny Box charging in on goal.

Prichard had a cut-back diverted away as the hosts threatened once more; Magee got out to punch clear; and Box missed a golden chance from close range again.

Taylor was replaced by Leon Moore with 15 to go and Mr Jenkins deemed Rowlatt’s tackle on Skerry a foul, and a yellow card.

Sub Skerry took the free-kick on the edge of the area and Harding gave the visitors a life-line after Chi failed to clear the ball.

Davidson countered down the right wing but Prichard’s cross was intercepted by D’Arienzo.

Overton then earned his side a set-piece which Hutchings thumped straight into the wall.

Eric-Georges Dellaud and Charlie Oakwell-Boulton came on for Haitham and Prichard in time added on as Burgess Hill threw the kitchen sink at Chi.

Box’s corner was too deep; Pashley walloped away a long goal kick; and fellow players had to cope with two Spinks punts into the mixer.

Dellaud was booked late on for an awkward coming together and Skerry’s rocket of a set-piece fizzed just the wrong side of the upright with practically the last kick of the match.

Chi are back on the road again on Saturday 5th February at eighth placed Sittingbourne (Kick Off 3pm).

Chichester – Magee, Davidson, Hutchings, Horncastle, Hyde, Pashley, Rowlatt, Mendoza, Overton, Prichard, Haitham. Subs: (Carroll, Barry, Dellaud, Madhani, Oakwell-Boulton)